SEMINOLE (FOX 13) - A Pinellas County School teacher was roughed-up by a student, and instead of the principal taking up for the teacher - she blamed her, according to deputies.
That has caused outrage from the local teachers union and put eyes on what some say is a toxic environment inside Seminole Middle School.
Surveillance video shows teacher Jaclyn Rivera blocking a student from re-entering her classroom after sending him to the principal's office for a disruption. Then later, a teacher’s aide who came to help has his keys stolen by a student and he falls to the ground.
The sheriff's office saw the video and arrested three students on felony charges.
According to the sheriff's office arrest report, the principal, Wendy Bryan saw the video and blamed the teacher for starting it and should have let the student into the classroom instead of blocking his way. According to the report, Bryan said the aide should have handed over his keys.
The school resource officer who investigated the incident says the teacher was acting in self-defense, using techniques she was trained for.
Mike Grandolfo, with the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, says it's a shame principal Bryan doesn't agree.
"It’s clear from the video the teachers are the victims in this case," Grandolfo said.
Reports from law enforcement show this kind of incident happens regularly. One teacher told officers violence at the school is out of hand and that students think hitting and shoving teachers is OK. Another teacher said the physical aggression by students is unlike anything he's ever seen before.
Rivera says writing the incident up doesn't do any good.
Gandolfo says this kind of thing happens all too often. He says administrators are fearful of losing their jobs. Incidents like this don’t look good on reviews, so they don't write them up.
“There is such a climate of fear,” Gandolfo said. “They are being pressed not to have any discipline issues... Pressed to make their numbers look better than they actually are."
Pinellas County Schools refused to give FOX 13 an interview, and the incident is under investigation. Rivera is hiring a private attorney to handle her case.